The CBI has booked 53 people, including government employees, in four separate FIRs for allegedly leasing out prime enemy properties illegally across Uttar Pradesh.
The cases are based on a complaint from the Assistant Custodian of Enemy Property for India (Govt of India), Lucknow, “on allegations of causing huge loss to Govt Exchequer by leasing out prime value lands/properties on forged documents”.
Enemy properties are properties that have been left behind by people who have taken citizenship of Pakistan and China. Enemy properties are currently vested with the Custodian of Enemy Property of India (CEPI).
The illegally leased out properties were spread across Lucknow, Barabanki, Sitapur, Noida Extension, Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad and Kasganj, among others, in UP.
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The agency on Thursday conducted searches at 40 locations — including in Delhi, Kolkata, Ghaziabad, Kasganj, Bulandshahar, Gautam Budh Nagar, Lucknow, Barabanki — at the premises of the accused, which “led to recovery of incriminating documents”. The agency also recovered Rs 82 lakh cash from one of the beneficiaries.
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The CBI has booked Samandar Singh Rana, the then officiating Custodian of Enemy Property of India (CEPI) in Delhi; Utpal Chakraborty, assistant custodian, and Ramesh Chandra Tewari, a retired supervisor (both based in Lucknow). They have been booked under IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 471 (forgery) and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act related to bribery, officials said.
In addition, CBI has named multiple beneficiaries as accused in the FIRs.
According to CBI, “the said public servants, in conspiracy with private persons, caused huge financial loss to [the] Government Exchequer by leasing out large tracts of prime high-value land… It was further alleged that the said land were given at very nominal rentals, allowing illegal constructions by private builders and also forging lease agreements in the matter of enemy properties.”
Over 71 hectares of land were illegally leased out in this manner, the CBI has alleged.
According to the FIR, the CEPI officials allegedly colluded with beneficiaries by “forging and manipulating lease agreements in favour of lessees” and granting lease without agreements. It alleged that leases were regularised without the Centre’s approval by waiving of lease rental arrears, unauthorised out-of-court settlements and other illegal means, causing loss of revenue to the government.
One of the beneficiaries was Ramesh Chandra Tewari’s brother Avinash Tewari, posted in the Revenue Department of UP, who got lease of more than 8 acres of prime land having a mango orchard with 177 trees at an annual rate of Rs 5,000, as against the market rate of Rs 5.55 lakh per annum, the FIR stated.
It is alleged that loss of more than Rs 1.45 crore was caused to the government in three years in two of the four cases, sources said.